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CISAC-commissioned study criticises safe harbour rules


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It will come as no surprise that a study commissioned by collecting-societies body CISAC criticises ‘safe harbour’ exceptions in copyright law.

But the study, from Ashbel Smith Professor Stan Liebowitz of the University of Texas at Dallas, is a good summary of the arguments being marshalled by music rightsholders as they campaign for reform of those laws.

Among its conclusions: “The notice and takedown provisions have proven to be entirely inadequate for the removal of copyright infringing material” on ‘user uploaded content’ (UUC) sites; that their protected ability to host content without a licence makes them “unwilling to pay a full market price equivalent to what they would be willing to pay if they required permission of copyright owners before they could provide their users access to this material” and thus “allows UUCs to take market share away from non-UUC sites by lowering advertising intensity and/or using their financial advantage to make their sites more attractive to users in other ways”.

The report also takes aim at YouTube’s Content ID, claiming it “does not work nearly as well as YouTube claims”, while suggesting that the ‘value gap’ is not just about the gap between music royalties paid by UUC platforms and pre-licensed music-streaming services: but between the payouts from both under the current system, and the “higher payments that each group would have made in the absence of safe harbors”.

Stuart Dredge

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